Around the world, girls face situations where barriers prevent them from accessing knowledge or control of their bodies.
750 million women alive today were married as children; more than one in three before they were 15 years old. Over the next 30 years, it's estimated that at least 280 million more girls under 18 will be married. The numbers are staggering. But behind each statistic is a child robbed of the right to make their own critical choices in life, to determine their own destiny, and to realize their full potential.
It's not easy to be a girl here. And it's clear to me that it's not the strangers who are the biggest threat. It's poverty. It's the lack of good options. It's the prevalence of sexual violence, especially for Nepal's Dalit and Indigenous girls. And it's something else, too. It's the lack of programs for men and boys.
Each year, 15 million girls under 18 will be married; that's 41,000 each day, or nearly one girl every two seconds. Complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the second-leading cause of death of 15 to 19 year old girls globally. And, frighteningly, 30 per cent of girls aged 15 to 19 around the world experience violence by a partner. Even here at home, three times as many Canadian women as men report being held back in some way due to their gender.
Alone, this law may not directly change much; it should go hand in hand with the support of more institutional and legal framework aimed at providing women with space and time to pursue their education and general development free of external pressures.
What can G20 leaders do to economically engage and empower girls and women? Put simply, they need to invest in the re-structuring of the educational, business and political systems which are set up to inhibit female empowerment. Education is the essential catalyst for this process. Education is essential if a girl is to become independent.
What most athletes don't think about as they're competing is our responsibility after the big win. I didn't realize at the time that an Olympic medal would mean I could one day make a difference in the world, just by lending my name to a cause.
While it's good news that Canada is beginning to engage in a more open dialogue about rape and sexual assault, the conversation
When hundreds of girls are kidnapped in Nigeria, disappearing into the night for months and counting, the world is outraged. When boys are handed guns and forced into militias, the world is shocked. When children work as slave labourers in mines, there are global cries for action. But these atrocities are only part of the picture.
In a new global report conducted by Plan entitled Hear Our Voices, we spoke with more than 7,000 adolescent girls and boys from 11 countries in Asia, Africa, Central and South America. We wanted to learn more about what issues and concerns adolescent girls faced and how boys felt about those issues too.